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About Our Research

Why the need to reduce farm chemical use?

Many are the reason that farmers are reducing chemical usage- rising chemical costs, tightening regulations and reduced registrations of chemicals are an obvious and immediate incentive. In addition are problems that farm chemicals cause to the environment and to human health. On top of this is the increased transparency in food marketing that allows consumers to choose products grown under more environmentally friendly practices. These pressures face farmers all over the world, and many are turning to cultural and biological farming practices to help deal with insect pest and weed problems. Conservation biological control is a cultural and biological control practice that can help alleviate both insect pest and weed problems in farming systems.

Conservation Biological Control

Conservation biological control is an insect pest management strategy that takes into consideration management practices of on-farm non-crop vegetation. The objective is to provide an environment that can secure and enhance the performance of beneficial arthropods –  pollinators, predators and parasitoids – specifically, and the food-web generally.

Our Research- increasing vegetative and arthropod diversity

Our research follows this idea and we aim to help growers change their orchard from a monoculture where regular inputs (pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers) degrade the health of the soil and waterways, and contribute to a decline in biodiversity. We aim to help growers change their orchards into well-functioning ecosystems whereby a diverse suite of carefully selected plant species fertilise and aerate the soil, allowing a healthy soil microbiology to enable functions such as increased water penetration, nutrient uptake and root growth; plants which also provide shelter, nectar, alternate prey and pollen to beneficial arthropods thereby enhancing the performance of beneficial arthropods and reducing the need for pesticide use.

See what we have been doing in young tree crops, old tree crops, orchard planning and design.